Sport Mirco Bergamasco last played for Italy in November 2012 before he suffered a fractured kneecap

The 30-year-old utility back, now with Rovigo in his homeland, has stood out this season and earnt a recall from national coach Jacques Brunel

Venice: Pure City, By Peter Ackroyd

Having drained London dry, Ackroyd has found a juicy new topic on the Adriatic. In this ironically titled study, La Serenissima gains an Ackroydian gloss, familiar to the many fans of his London: A Biography. Ackroyd's Venice is "the home of the dispossessed and the deracinated".

Northern League demands freedom from Rome's rain

Italy's federalist and powerful Northern League, not content with demands for more local political autonomy, now wants freedom from the tyranny of national weather forecasts.

Venice baulks at prospect of 'outrageous' plastic gondolas

Venice has had to endure much over the ages: invading armies, constant floods and marauding tourists. But the evocative lagoon port has drawn the line at the latest assault – the arrival of fibreglass gondolas.

A Taste of Venice: At Table with Brunetti, By Donna Leon

Consumption plays a prominent part in Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti novels. This is fair enough since the detective's beat takes him down the mean canals of Venice, where culinary temptations (with recipes by Roberta Pianaro) are somewhat more frequent than in Marlowe's LA.

Azzurri have Magners snub point to prove, warns Heaslip

Ireland begin their quest to win back-to-back Grand Slams when they open their Six Nations defence against Italy at Croke Park today.

On The Road: Making sense of fair Verona

I get by in Italian. I can be mannerly and appreciative, buy things, curse in a variety of dialects and make myself understood. But, being limited to structureless utterances that lack nuance, cheek or charm, I can't really be myself in Italian. So I have come to Verona to do a month's language course at LinguaIT ( linguait.it ), an on-the-ball school located in a grand palazzo.

Ashton stays on the scent of Saints' last-eight ambitions

Northampton 30 Treviso 18

Heineken Cup round-up: Arias on song as Scots get plastered in Paris

Stade Français scored four first-half tries against Edinburgh in Paris, on their way to a 31-7 victory in Pool Four of the Heineken Cup.

Carmen Ejogo: 'There's some kind of trauma at play'

Sam Mendes is known for discovering American actresses, but his new film has a fresh British star. Carmen Ejogo tells James Mottram how her own troubled upbringing meant she could identify with the characters in 'Away We Go'

Death in Venice – but this time it's Bogarde's beach

Scene immortalised by Dirk Bogarde film will be lost under plans to develop sand dunes. Michael Day reports on the backlash

Venice Is a Fish, By Tiziano Scarpa

A "vast sole", to be precise, caught by a fishing line in the form of the causeway that links it to the mainland. Scarpa's luminous tribute (translated by Shaun Whiteside) won't tell you where to go ("Getting lost is the only place worth getting to"), but he does tell you how to enjoy Venice through hands ("Block a drinking fountain and send three-metre geysers gushing from the spout") and mouth (fried sardines marinaded in onions and vinegar will "flabbergast your taste buds...").

The Girl of His Dreams, By Donna Leon

The 17th novel in Donna Leon's excellent detective series finds the affable Commissario Guido Brunetti trying to work out how and why a pretty ten-year-old girl has been found floating in Venice's Grand Canal. His investigations take him deep into the Veneto and a squalid gypsy encampment.

My Tango with Barbara Strozzi, By Russell Hoban

Recently-separated writer Phil Ockerman falls in love with winningly-named Bertha Strunk at a tango lesson. Bertha turns out to be the spit of 17th-century Venetian singer and composer Barbara Strozzi, whose "slightly sluttish look was irresistible". Bertha and Barbara take up serious fantasy space in Phil's head, until he's not sure which is which. Hoban's story is grounded in a familiar cityscape of cafés and tubes, but populated with arcane references and zany riffs. A love story that takes place between the ears rather than sheets, it captures the faltering steps of a romance between two people who've been tripped up in the past.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Bruges
India & Nepal
Japan
Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?